Angry Egyptian policemen close crossing with Gaza

GAZA Fri May 17, 2013 4:52am EDT

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GAZA (Reuters) - Egyptian policemen blocked the crossing into the Gaza Strip on Friday to protest against the kidnapping of Egyptian security forces in the Sinai, witnesses and sources said.

Locals said police had placed barbed wire across the entrance to the border and closed the gates with chains, leaving hundreds of Palestinians stranded on both sides of the fence.

Islamist gunmen abducted seven Egyptian security forces on Thursday and have demanded the release of imprisoned militants in exchange for the men. Three of those abducted have worked at the Rafah crossing, sources said.

The police at Rafah are calling on Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi to free their colleagues, the sources said.

Hardline Islamist groups based in North Sinai have exploited the collapse of state authority after the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak to launch attacks across the border into Israel and on Egyptian targets.

(Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi)

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